A Salvadoran man suspected of murder in his home country and was arrested for a hit-and-run crash in Contra Costa County last year has been deported, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Handy Brayan Guzman-Romero, 26, who is suspected of fatally shooting a man in El Salvador in 2008, was taken by ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations unit on a flight back to that country on Wednesday, ICE officials said. In May 2012, Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies arrested Guzman-Romero for an alleged hit-and-run and for driving without a license, according to ICE. After his arrest, a routine fingerprint screening under ICE's Secure Communities program revealed that Guzman-Romero had already been deported in 2007 and had an immigration detainer filed against him, ICE officials said.
When Contra Costa County authorities declined to press charges in the hit-and-run case, ICE took Guzman-Romero into custody and transferred him to a detention facility near Los Angeles. Although the suspect argued in immigration court that he should be allowed to stay in the U.S., a Board of Immigration Appeals judge in September declined to halt his deportation, according to ICE officials. Immigration officials say Guzman-Romero's deportation this week is an example of growing cooperation between the U.S. and El Salvador to arrest and deport Salvadoran criminal suspects who have fled to the U.S.
"Had it not been for Secure Communities, this foreign murder suspect might have been released to the street and evaded justice," Timothy Aitken, field office director for ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations unit in San Francisco, said in a statement. "While this individual did not have any criminal convictions here in the United States, if the murder charge is substantiated, clearly he posed a potential public safety threat," Aitken said.